The German daily, Süddeutsche Zeitung writes about the forthcoming visit of the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker to Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. All before the EU reveals its Strategy for the Western Balkans…
“Juncker’s last year in office may not be occupied by Brexit, but rather by being welcoming. The European Commission intends to announce its Balkan strategy soon that could encourage membership candidates. Judging by the current situation is, the Commission just might state the next possible accession date as 2025. The date should be “indicative”, that is, “optional”, and should not be interpreted as the exact date. But the European Commission is clear when it says that Montenegro, which is far advanced in the accession negotiations, and Serbia, could be mature enough to join the EU sometime between 2024 and 2026. Setting the exact dates has long been avoided because of the fear that they might be misunderstood as a promise and, as such, curtail the reforms”, the German daily writes.
The daily goes on to quote David McAllister, an MEP and the European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Serbia who has said: “”It is possible that Montenegro and Serbia will meet the (accession) conditions by 2025. They are at the forefront of the race.” McAllister, who as the EP’s Rapporteur for Serbia, has been closely dealing with country in the last few years, adds that Serbia is “economically on the right track,” but also “faced with major challenges” when it comes to ”the rule of law, media freedom, and the fight against corruption and organized crime”. Also, one of the EU’s prerequisites is for Serbia and Kosovo conclude a binding agreement on the normalization of the bilateral relations.
“When the European Commission announces its plans soon, it will have to sway between the Union’s solid interests, the aspirations of the region and public opinion in many member states that are not particularly inclined towards EU enlargement. And McCalister carefully chooses the words. As the best possible scenario, he puts the date for Serbia-Montenegro accession in the middle of the next decade. And the prerequisite for this is that the two countries ‘really implement all the necessary reforms”, Süddeutsche Zeitung writes.
“Because certain mistakes have been made with the premature reception of Romania and Bulgaria, it is important to apply strict criteria,” McCallister adds. He then goes on to say that the EU is right to turn its attention to the region where Russia, Turkey, China and Saudi Arabia are ‘battling’ for influence. “The Western Balkans deserves more than a kind disinterest,” he warns.
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